Wo­mack: Bud­get bill should go be­fore Congress soon

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - NORTHWEST ARKANSAS - DOUG THOMP­SON

ROGERS — A bi­par­ti­san bud­get process re­form bill should get com­mit­tee ap­proval next week and go be­fore the next ses­sion of Congress, 3rd Dis­trict Rep. Steve Wo­mack said Thurs­day.

The bill is a ma­jor goal of the con­gress­man, whose oneyear ten­ure as House Bud­get Com­mit­tee chair­man will end in Jan­uary.

The re­form bill will come from the Joint Se­lect Com­mit­tee on Bud­get and Ap­pro­pri­a­tions Process Re­form, which Wo­mack helped found shortly af­ter his ap­point­ment as bud­get chair­man.

The for­mer Rogers mayor is a Repub­li­can. Democrats won the ma­jor­ity in Tues­day’s elec­tion and take over chair­man­ships of stand­ing com­mit­tees when the next Congress is sworn in.

“If John Paul Ham­mer­schmidt can serve 26 years in the mi­nor­ity, I can serve a cou­ple,” Wo­mack quipped dur­ing his re­marks to the Sum­mit, an hour­long lunchtime event at Cross Church Pin­na­cle Hills.

Wo­mack handed two World War II vet­er­ans his speak­ing time dur­ing the event in honor of Vet­er­ans Day, which is Sun­day.

Pat Pat­ter­son and Chuck Hurl, both of Bella Vista, told Wo­mack and the au­di­ence of their wartime ex­pe­ri­ences. Pat­ter­son was a de­cod­ing spe­cial­ist in China for the Of­fice of Strate­gic Ser­vices. Hurl served as a tank com­man­der in Europe.

Wo­mack said af­ter the lun­cheon the joint re­form com­mit­tee was set up in such a way as to build bi­par­ti­san con­sen­sus. The com­mit­tee is draft­ing a mea­sure to stream­line the bud­get process, a leg­isla­tive pro­ce­dure so full of po­ten­tial stum­bling blocks

and points of re­sis­tance that it has never pro­duced a reg­u­lar, passed bud­get bill since Wo­mack en­tered Congress in 2011, he said.

De­tails of the com­mit­tee’s pro­posal will come out when and if the bill wins ma­jor­ity ap­proval of the joint com­mit­tee, Wo­mack said.

Joint ap­proval must in­clude at least five Democrats and five Repub­li­cans from the evenly di­vided 16-mem­ber com­mit­tee. Again, that re­quire­ment is part of a de­sign to en­sure both par­ties have formed a con­sen­sus on re­form, Wo­mack said.

The reg­u­lar bud­get cy­cle, mean­while, has never stopped. Congress has to au­tho­rize spend­ing on Dec. 7. “I hope it is not an­other con­tin­u­ing res­o­lu­tion,” he said, re­fer­ring to the prac­tice of ap­prov­ing a sta­tus quo, tem­po­rary mea­sure to con­tinue spend­ing at cur­rent lev­els.


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